New findings in psychology and neuroscience are pushing philosophers to rethink such big questions as the relationship between mind and body, the meaning of free will, just exactly what faith is, the nature of consciousness, and what constitutes happiness. There's some evidence that issues such as free will itself reflect temperament and personality. There's even more evidence that we are terrible at predicting what will make us happy, which is why we have such a hard time finding durable happiness.

Recent Posts on Philosophy

The Joys of Self-Infliction

It is an illusion that people want to be happy, at least to judge by the way they behave.

What Keeps You From Being Unconditionally Self-Accepting?

The desire to become your personal best is normal—and it’s admirable. But wanting to become better than others, not so much . . . maybe not at all. For, so defined, this particular goal reflects an inflated, aggressive, and possibly domineering ego. If you genuinely see yourself as unique—for, after all, there’s never been anybody exactly like you, then . . .

Of Dogs and Memory

The ‘storehouse’ of memory is an important base source, providing the ‘ammunition’ that stimulates the human imagination to wander at will.

Democracy and the Pro-social Impulse

Governments answerable to the people can exist only due to the fact that we’re emotional, social creatures, not isolated, rational, strictly selfish individuals. A better appreciation of human nature can help us secure a democratic future.

The Dream of Reason

The story of reason in modern times

Why I Believe in Bigfoot

By William Irwin Ph.D. on May 15, 2015 in Plato on Pop
No, I don’t believe THAT Bigfoot exists. I just believe it is possible. What’s more, I believe IN Bigfoot. I believe IN Bigfoot the way I would believe IN a friend’s innocence even if I didn’t believe THAT he was innocent. I believe IN Bigfoot precisely because I don’t believe IN much else.

Speed: Scientific Self-Correction versus Plate Tectonics

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on May 15, 2015 in Rabble Rouser
If psychological science is self-correcting, it is very very very hard to detect.

Longevity Cookbook is Your Chance to Defeat Aging

One dashing 29-year-old scientist is helping to bring longevity research into people's houses—specifically into their kitchens. Maria Konovalenko is one of the lead organizers and authors of the Longevity Cookbook, full of recipes and ideas that will help you live far longer.

(Some Of) My Teaching Philosophy

By Jesse Marczyk on May 13, 2015 in Pop Psych
Student evaluations of teachers tend to be negatively predictive of teaching effectiveness. Perhaps there are ways of fixing that problem with the right methods

Christianity Declining, Secularism Rising

There are fewer Christians and more non-religious Americans than ever before. This is good news, for several reasons.

Can God Be Its Own Cause?

Many humans find First Cause arguments for the existence of God compelling. Why? There are two collaborating reasons: Our confusion over infinity, and our lack of confusion over the strange notion of being self-caused -- a property often attributed to God. Both of these implicate our amazing and puzzling ability to conceive.

The Shadow and His Wanderer

Indulge me in 3 lines of thought: Nietzsche on free will. How to talk to strangers on a plane. Car key design.

Description and Experience

However much we think we know, experience still comes a surprise. This will always be so - and thank goodness for it!

Memorial Day: A Gift That Keeps On Giving

We all need general convictions that give meaning to our life and enable us to find a place for ourselves in the larger universe. The spirit that boils from our good choices and sacrifices cannot and must not be extinguished during our dark times, yet we are reminded every day that darkness is at our doorstep.

Self-Deception Has Many Faces

Procrastination is a stealth form of self-deception

No Virginia, Gay Marriage Won’t Lead to 900,000 Abortions

Gene Schaerr’s recently argued, before the Supreme Court, that gay marriage will lead to more abortions--900,000 more! But his argument wouldn't even receive a passing grade in my sophomore level logic class.

Gods, Machines, & Monsters: Feminist Zeitgeist in Ex Machina

By Kyle D Killian Ph.D. on May 01, 2015 in Intersections
What Ex Machina says about society's view of who passes for "human."

To Thine Own Self Be True?

By Michael W Austin on April 30, 2015 in Ethics for Everyone
Don't be you. Be a better version of you.

Do Alzheimer's Patients Have the Right to Say Yes to Sex?

The right to love is considered to be an essential human right; however, one exception that often prevails is in cases of Alzheimer’s patients. The case of Henry Rayhons, who was charged with sexually abusing his wife Donna, is such a striking example; Can people who are unable to recognize their own children give their sound sexual consent?

The Deepest War Wound May Be the Anguish of Moral Injury

By Nancy Sherman Ph.D. on April 28, 2015 in Afterwar
That the military code—never abandon a buddy, bring all your troops home, don't put innocents at risk—is impossible to meet doesn't always register deep down. The result may be shame, and all too often suicidal shame.

Ex Machina: Oedipus Ex?

By Ravi Chandra M.D. on April 23, 2015 in The Pacific Heart
Ex Machina opens wide this weekend. What does it mean to us to create life technologically? What does it say about our fears and hopes? Thoughts on Ex Machina and Her.

Is Your Cell Phone Conscious? On Information Integration

By Paul Thagard Ph.D. on April 23, 2015 in Hot Thought
The theory that consciousness is just information integration suffers from vagueness, mathematical problems, naïve claims about self-evidence, and misattribution of consciousness to entities such as smartphones.So it is less plausible than alternate theories that explain consciousness as the result of brain mechanisms.

The Brevity of Time

You would think that awareness of our common fate – the knowledge that we are all ‘in the same boat’…. in that we all, individually, die – would induce some small, however slight, sense of our common ‘humanness’ across the world’s nations and cultures.

Moral Motivation and God's Rewards

What humans' moral intuitions suggest about the relative merits of religious versus secular accounts of moral motivation.

Will You Be Openly Secular?

By David Niose on April 19, 2015 in Our Humanity, Naturally
Openly Secular Day aims to encourage nonbelievers to be open about their personal secularity.

My Journey to Figuring Out How to Live Life

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on April 18, 2015 in How To Do Life
Thoughts on the life well-led and the meaning of life.

What We Choose to Believe - The Power of Belief

By Po Chi Wu Ph.D. on April 17, 2015 in Jacob's Staff
Why are we more tolerant of our own fallibility than that of machines that operate on probabilities (algorithms)? What does this say about our confidence in science and scientific evidence? Does the entrepreneurial mindset offer a different perspective on how we learn and grow?

Getting Existential with Josh Rouse

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on April 17, 2015 in Brick by Brick
Josh Rouse shares how he has been able to conquer anxiety through mindfulness.

What Makes Us Tick?

They met in a airport because of a book that one of them was reading, the same the other had recently read. The conversation was so stimulating that they decided to continue it online and share it with their readers. They both believe this will be the first of an endless series of talks about the subject—what makes people tick—that tickles them the most.

The Brain Is Wider Than the Sky

Neuroscientists often quote Emily Dickinson's poem that begins, "The brain is wider than the sky," in support of their view that the mind is nothing but the brain. But they interpret the poem too narrowly, and miss its deeper meaning. Her poetry can teach us about the brain and mind, in ways that neuroscience can't.